Ake's Pains debuted in the University of Akron Buchtelite in September of 1977. The school's reputation as an institute of higher learning has still not recovered. Ake's Pains returns after a brief 32 year hiatus. It's back, baby!

Saturday, April 28, 2018

I Have Checked Out Of The Memory Motel

At one time my memory was exceptional. I could even remember details of some conversations I had for years. This ability was very beneficial in both my personal and business relationships.

But I still remember (ironic for the topic of this post) the day everything changed.  I was around 44 years-old and talking to a coworker about a possible change to one of our products. He made a suggestion and I said that wouldn’t work based on a conversation I had with one of our engineers a few weeks ago.  He asked me who had said that.

Who?  Who indeed. That conversation was very recent and there were only a few engineers working on the project, yet I could not remember who I had talked to. Drew a blank.  A big blank.  And so it began …..

And once your memory starts to fade, it keeps fading at a slow, steady, almost imperceptible pace. Until you forget something massively important that embarrasses you or costs you money, or both.  All your life you thought it was funny when “old” people couldn’t remember things. You are no longer laughing, are you?

Memory loss can be more consequential for middle-age people than it is for the elderly. When you are really old, you have fewer important details to remember and people helping you to do so. But middle-agers have important responsibilities both at home, and especially at work, where an active, vibrant memory is necessary. Except you don’t have a lively memory any more. You used to have it, but now it’s getting worn out and sporadic. And unlike your phone, you can’t upgrade your brain to the newest, freshest, model, Brain 2.0 for example.

Your mind is similar to a computer and you are losing ROM and RAM on a constant basis. For guys, it’s the second type of RAM you are losing. Your gigabytes are turning into megabytes and will soon be kilobytes. After that you will be wearing a bib and someone will be feeding you bites. And this whole aging process just bites. Bites big time.

Your long-term memory is fading and your short-term memory is sporadic and highly unreliable. It is interesting that the memories of years past are still buried deep inside your brain. But you can’t access them until an old friend says something to jar or jog your memory.

I will now attempt to describe how this short-term memory loss makes an impact on everyday life. This will a public service to my younger readers, a preview of what is coming down the road. (Spoiler Alert! It’s a horror film)

The Short List

When you were younger, your short-term memory functioned like a multi-cell spreadsheet.  You could fill in the many cells with all the things you needed to remember.  Over time the number of your cells, in this case brain cells, has decreased. Now your spreadsheet contains one cell.  You can only remember one item at a time.  How does this play out in real life? Two examples:

-         I needed to walk out to the street and get the newspaper, a distance of about 40 steps.  Half way there I realize that I needed to take a letter, located by the door, to the mailbox, located by the newspaper box. I walk back into the house, get the letter, and put it in mailbox. When I get back in the house, I realize I forgot to get the newspaper, which I then retrieve.  So, it ended up taking me two and a half trips to accomplish something that should only take one.

-         And this one-cell syndrome is responsible for the great game “Why the Heck Did I Come Into This Room?” You realize you need to clip a coupon from the magazine in the front room.  You enter “Coupon” in your one brain-cell spreadsheet.  Then replace that with “Front Room”. But when you get to the front room you are clueless as to why you are even there. You just stand there staring into space as if you are on some mind-altering drug. Your mind has been altered all right, but by age, not drugs.  Later that day, you see the magazine and realize that is why you entered the room hours earlier. But you still have to leaf through the magazine to remember why you needed it in the first place.

The Name Game

-         It is almost impossible to remember new people’s names when introduced. Your brain has trouble storing the information because you only have that one-cell available.  And if you are introduced to three people at one time, you’re so screwed because your brain gets totally overwhelmed.

-         You run into someone at the mall you haven’t seen for years but have no idea who they are.  You strike up a conversation and hope they have forgotten your name also. I feel so guilty when the conversation starts out “Don! It’s so great to see you!”  Uh, it’s great to see you too, Dude!

-         Even when you remember a name, it’s hard to retain it.  Last year, I ran into a guy I had not seen in 25 years. I remembered his name, but he did not remember mine.  He told me his number was in the book and I should call him sometime for lunch.  By the time I got home, I had totally forgotten his name and it took me four days of trying before I was able to remember it – and yes, I then wrote it down.

Important Dates

-         Used to be you would receive an important bill and enter the date and where you put in into your multi-celled spreadsheet.  Before it was due you always found the bill and paid it. Those days are long gone.  Now I have a special container for all my bills – except I forget to check it regularly.  Last year I was almost late paying an important tax invoice because I hadn’t checked the container for three weeks, and of course I had forgotten all about the bill!

-         Now the calendar function on the computer is a godsend for people my age, provided you remember to actually enter the events into it.  And sometimes it can nearly give you a heart attack when a reminder appears on the screen for a long-forgotten event that is starting in ten minutes!  I have even heard of instances where some guys (but not me) have forgotten their wife’s birthday (definitely not talking about me) but are reminded by a Facebook birthday notification. Is that funny or what? But this never, ever, happened to me.  It was other guys I heard that one from. And it is funny, so funny. Ha Ha!

Locating Items

A few weeks ago, I’m frantically searching for my phone as my wife and I are getting ready to leave for an event. 

Wife: What are you looking for?

Me: My phone. It was here just a moment ago, but now it’s gone!

Wife: Uh, look in your hand.

Now she did miss a great opportunity. She could have dialed my number and then recorded how high I jumped.

-         Then there is a case of “Don’s Magical Pants”.  Last year, two new pairs of jeans magically appeared in my closet.  I have no idea how they got there.  I don’t remember ordering them, receiving them in the mail, trying them on, putting them in the wash, or hanging them in the back of the closet.  And they are great jeans because they are my first jeans ever that contain lycra, which means they really hug my butt.  I would say shape my butt, however, at my age my butt only comes in one shape, LARGE.

-         You have those items which you store in a “special place”. You could remember where you put stuff when you were younger, but now this is similar to a squirrel burying nuts. There is an item I bought three years ago that I still cannot locate!

Memory Erasers

If you are away from the office for any period of time, this serves as a memory eraser causing you to be totally unaware of what you were working on when you return.  Two examples:

-         Unless you write a “to do” list Friday afternoon, you can return to work Monday morning thinking you have a light work day when in fact you have a ton of work to get finished. And always, always!, check your computer calendar first thing Monday morning, or you can totally forget about the important meeting that day.  Not that I have ever, ever, done that. I heard about this one from other people. Not me, others.

-         One time I worked feverishly on this important report, sending it off just hours before leaving on an extremely relaxing beach vacation. Soon after I returned, we were reviewing my report in a big meeting when my boss says:

“Don, the analysis on page 7 is brilliant. Please explain to everybody how you got to that conclusion.”

I hurriedly find page 7 and start reading.  I think to myself:  Wow, this analysis is good! I wonder who did it?  Oh no, …. So, I quickly go  into my memory bank to find information about the report. But the mental folder has been wiped clean except for one file. I quickly open it, but all I hear in my head is:

Aruba, Jamaica, oh I want to take you to
Bermuda, Bahama, come on pretty mama
Key Largo, Montego baby why don't we go ...*

Me: I used the Kokomo method, sir.

Boss: The Kokomo method?

Me: Yes, it’s a very granular analysis. You run the numbers fast and then you take it slow. That’s how you really know, drill down with Kokomo.

Just Write Some Notes!

When you start to forget things, people suggest writing notes. This still works well when you can still remember most stuff and the notes are few.  But as the memory fade continues, you need to write more notes and this system has some drawbacks. Here is a photo of my personal desk. I assure you that although I did spread out some of the note piles, I did not add one
piece of paper for the pic. Unfortunately, I think the picture is a valid representation of what the inside my brain looks like.

You Are Not Intelligent - Just Old

There was a study done last year that concluded forgetfulness is a sign of intelligence.  That might be true when you are younger, but if you are late middle-age, forgetfulness is a sign you are old. Understand? You are not intelligent, you are just old. So quit posting this meme on Facebook.

I had so many great jokes I wanted to include in this post.  Some of my greatest writing ever.  But unfortunately, I forgot all those witty quips.  It’s a good thing too, because they were so funny they would have literally made your pee your pants. But most importantly, the last thing I want to say is, uh yeah, okay ……. Well, let's just end it here.

* Lyrics by the Beach Boys

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Where Are My Fancy-Smancy Socks?

Stephen Hawking the so-called brilliant astrophysicist passed away recently.  I say “so-called” because I believe the guy was vastly overrated. He was a theoretical physicist, which meant he used all his extraordinary brain power coming up with these complex theories on the universe that no one could understand. 

I mean he spent a lot of time just staring into black holes. So he was similar to, no better than a, well a –

(Okay, just insert your best offensive joke right here.  Just make sure it does not include the word “gynecologist”.)

The point is, he spent his time on very impractical things. Theories on black holes and the origins of the universe don’t improve my life in any tangible way. I, however, choose to focus my brain power on much more practical matters, such as:

Now this is also one of the great mysteries of the universe, but it occurs very
Staring into a black hole!
frequently under our own roofs. I had the occasion to ponder this question recently when my wife cleaned out her “sock refuge” basket and presented me with 14 orphaned socks.

It saddened me to look through the pile.  In included some great socks, a few I remembered from long ago and had only worn a couple times. How did these poor socks get orphaned and where, oh where, are their mates?

Now you may think this lost sock problem is insignificant, but you would be wrong, so wrong!  A study in England found that we lose 1.3 socks a month or 15 in a year. Which calculates out to 1,264 socks in our lifetime or $2,500. That doesn’t seem like a lot of money, but when you come to the end of your life and your funds are running out, that could be the difference between eating dog food versus a ham sammich. All because you couldn’t keep track of your socks!

The pile of orphans
I was relieved to see those statistics because I estimate I lost my 14 socks over about a two-year period, which puts my separation rate much below average. Still, I felt an obligation to match those socks up with their lost partners. This caused me to do something extremely uncomfortable for a man. I reorganized my sock drawer. Yes, you read that correct. I actually spent time going through my hosiery. Now I know this is not a manly thing to do, and it does pain me to admit it publicly. But I will argue that I should be able to retain my “Man Card” on the basis that the action was necessary to complete this very important project.

I found seven orphans in my sock drawer and I was able to match up all seven with the orphans from the basket.  Hallelujah!  14 lost socks had been redeemed.  I started singing:

Reunited, and it feels so good
Reunited 'cause we understood
There's one perfect fit
And, sugar, this one is it
We both are so excited 'cause we're reunited, hey, hey

Now I do admit to owning too many pairs of those patterned, fancy-smancy socks. This is because my friend Jeff told me about Roger, who was the first man at his company to begin wearing fancy-smancy socks.  All the guys snickered behind Roger’s back at his gaudy hosiery, but even though Roger was an arrogant, disgusting, sunavabeech, he quickly rose through the ranks to become CEO.  In basketball it “must have been the shoes” but in the corporate world, it’s all about the socks, fancy-smancy socks.

I have worn fancy-smancy socks ever since. This discount store I shop at sells $3 socks for only $1. Only $1!  So I buy three pair.  Except that I don’t really need any, therefore I end up spending $3 I don’t need to, in order to save $6.  That’s shopper’s math right there.

My fanciest-smanciest pair of socks is shown here. Now I did not buy these. They were
given to me to wear at my daughter’s wedding. I know posting this pic also threatens my “Man Card”, but the photo was taken on Easter when the church has ordained people to wear bonnets, pastels and all other gay apparel.

But where do the lost socks go? That study in England attempted to answer this, but its findings were lame. I decided to make like Stephen Hawking and peer into the black hole inside my dryer, but it was just too darn dark to see anything. I guess I’m just not as smart as Hawking. He must have had great night vision.

Now in the Church of Wayward Socks, the devil is static cling. I’m thinking the socks just get stuck to other clothing.  But if this was so, you would see people at the store all the time with socks stuck to their clothes.  One time my friend Lynn went to the store with a pair of panties stuck on her back. She claims it was an accident, I believe it was an advertisement.

I have two ideas to help mankind deal with this scourge. The first is to create a website, Sock-Match.com, where single socks create a profile to find their perfect match. But of course, there would still be some disappointments:

Marcy says: I’m a purple argyle. I’m never going to find my match, my sole-mate.

Yolanda says: He lied in his profile!  He claimed he was lavender, but he was aqua!  Aqua! We clashed right from the start, boo hoo!

But my best idea to determine where these socks go is to use modern tracking technology. All they have to do is put tracking sensors into every sock and then record where the lost socks end up. If they ever conduct a study like this, I will be first in line to sign up. And I will be sure to wear some fancy-smancy socks to the interview to make sure I am chosen!

*Lyrics by Peaches & Herb